We all had big dreams for the start of 2022, but the truth is that it’s hard to keep track of new goals when we can’t even keep track of the piece of paper they were written upon, so let’s do ourselves (and our dreams) a favor.
Let’s clean up the house and help reduce the overwhelm threatening to curb those resolutions yet another year. This small step can propel you toward actually achieving all those goals you set back in January - because it’s never too late to keep a New Year’s resolution, especially if one of those resolutions was keeping a clean house.
Why It Helps
After even just a few months in a new house, it’s easy to spot the areas where items tend to congregate. A kitchen counter, a coffee table, the top of the dryer, or an entire room starts to offer an easy holding place for those items we don’t quite know what to do with. If you’re ready to finally get back to the crisp, clean look of a new space, you are in good company. Minimizing and decluttering have been more than just buzz words over the past couple of years; they’ve been complete game-changers for a lot of homeowners. Bringing order to your home doesn’t just make everything look better, it goes a long way to making you feel better, too. By reducing the sheer amount of stuff around you, your mind is better able to find calm and focus on the most important priorities.
Where To Begin
So, where does one begin when there seems to be so very much to do? Easy! Take on the simple tasks first. Check those off the list to get a little dose of dopamine, providing motivation for you to tackle the bigger projects.
Low Hanging Fruit
Look around your house to find a handful of easy fixes to get you going. Think small – one busy bathroom cupboard, the kitchen table, or a nightstand are all quick areas to address when starting on your journey to better organization. Empty all items from the surface and then work through each one determining if it stays, goes, or gets donated. Then, for any items that are to remain, you must find them their own individual “home.” Where does the item really belong? Where can it live, so that it doesn’t take up space in a random location? And if you can’t find it a home, does it really belong? Now is the time to get honest with yourself.
The Obvious Problems
Once you’ve cleaned up those easy areas, it’s time to tackle the places you know to be the biggest problems. Your kid’s dresser or the kitchen island, a bedroom floor, or the four feet of space that used to be a desk – that’s where you want to focus your energy. Find the areas that collect the most junk and dig in with the understanding that at least half of the items likely need to find their way out of your house. It’s hard – we get it – but the accumulation of unnecessary stuff can have a negative impact on your brain space. Clearing the clutter really works to clear your mind, and if you run into trouble determining what should stay and what should go, here’s a handy list of questions to help you figure it out.
Junk drawers, closets, and storage rooms all serve as great hiding places for the stuff we don’t know what to do with. Even if you can’t see it every day, that doesn’t mean it gets to stay. Challenge yourself to tackle at least one of these hidden spaces every month until they have all been sorted. Your future more-focused self will thank you.
Outside the Four Walls
There is one room that seems to always be in disarray – the garage. For many people, it offers the first peek into the house, so what does this first impression really say? Decluttering and cleaning the garage can be quite a chore, so reserve at least a full day if not an entire weekend to do the project. Like with the rest of the house, be firm with what items you truly need and which ones you can spare. For additional tips and tricks, check out these garage cleaning recommendations from This Old House.
How To Maintain
Once you have done the heavy lifting to get your house clean and organized, how will you maintain it? If you’ve done a thorough job of eliminating unnecessary stuff, the chore of maintaining a cleanly existence becomes a lot easier. Open surfaces are much simpler to wipe down and keep sanitized, while closets and drawers that are already neat and tidy encourage that higher standard to continue. Furthermore, homeowners are automatically rewarded every time they look for a specific shirt or find a set of car keys with ease. Finding an item exactly where it belongs reinforces the notion that each item truly benefits from having a designated “home.”
It will likely take more than these natural rewards to keep this system running, though, so try setting a whole-house cleaning schedule. Select the rooms you know need the most attention and put them on the schedule at least weekly. For areas that experience less use or clutter, stick to a bi-weekly or even monthly cleaning, depending on need. Try to stick to your plan for at least 90 days in order to cement the schedule into your routine. For additional tips, follow Reader’s Digest’s advice on how to keep a clean house when it all starts to get away from you.
Reducing the general overwhelm of life is a practice that takes time and effort. It is not something we can leave to a “one and done” resolution if we expect to reap the biggest benefits. Working through each problematic space and establishing clear “homes” for belongings is a great first step, but it takes a set cleaning schedule to maintain the minimalist style that keeps spaces (and minds) fresh and clear in this promising new year.